With more than 2 million citizens 65 or older, Pennsylvania has the fourth oldest population in the United States, and experts say they aren’t getting the care they need.
Advocates and senior citizen care professionals met to discuss the safety of the state’s elderly with a Pennsylvania Senate committee. Drawing up a four-year aging plan for the state, the meetings emphasis was on senior abuse.
Self-neglect and caregiver neglect make up about 65 percent of all reported abuse cases in the state, but the majority of cases go unreported, according to the panel.
Pennsylvania State Senator LeAnna Washington (D-Philadelphia) said state residents need to make a greater effort to prevent and stop elder abuse and neglect.
“We who have seniors that we care about, we love, and are in situations that need services have to pay more attention to what’s happening to our loved ones,” she said.
About 90 percent of elder abusers are family members and most often are adult children and spouses, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse.
Seniors are also at risk of financial abuse. The panel said those who live alone are more likely to fall for financial scams, such as fake stock investments or door-to-door cons. And only one in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are reported annually, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association.
Washington, chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, said she organized the panel to hear first-hand what issues senior citizens are facing.
“Hopefully, out of this will come a task force that will have mandated reporters who are not just licensed social workers, but are the people who are involved with senior citizens,” she said. “So, this is just the beginning of some work that we have to do in the Senate as it relates to our senior citizens.”